EAST VILLAGE — A coffee war is brewing in the East Village, with Starbucks set to replace a longtime coffee shop that has its own expansion plan in the neighborhood.
The java giant, which has nearly 200 shops in Manhattan alone, is set to take over for local favorite The Bean, which is moving from its current address at the corner of East Third Street to a space a block away on East Second Street, owner Ike Escava said.
The move, first reported in the New York Times, marks Starbucks’ first foray into the neighborhood east of Second Avenue, and its 188th branch in Manhattan alone.
Rumors circulated late last year that the coffee chain was eyeing another space on First Avenue, near St. Mark’s Place, as well as on Avenue A, but the company quickly shot down the scuttlebutt.
However, a spokesman for chain confirmed the new location Wednesday, noting that the building's owner marketed the space to Starbucks and that the store would open sometime in early 2012.
"Seven blocks away is our next closest store, which by Manhattan standards is reasonable distance," said company spokesman Jim Olson, referring to the chain's location on Second Avenue and East Ninth Street.
"We love New York and New York is very important to us," he added. "We’re proud of our presence there."
Regardless, The Bean appears to be growing even faster than the ubiquitous Seattle-based coffeemaker, with a new outpost already open on Broadway and East 12th Street, and two more expected on Second and First avenues.
“We feel the timing is right,” said Escava, 46, who opened the original location a decade ago with partner Sammy Cohen. “We started to look into expansion, and we decided to go as far as we can go.”
Escava said he plans to open a third Bean location at 54 Second Ave., at East Third Street, in the fall, followed by a fourth at 147 First Ave., at East Ninth Street, in early 2012.
All the locations will offer free Wi-Fi and plenty of seating, in addition to welcoming dogs inside, Escava said.
The expansion comes amid particularly trying times for the independent brewer, which saw a cab crash into the storefront last year and was briefly seized by the state in February for failing to pay back taxes.
Escava's lease on the East Third Street space was month to month, and he only discovered that Starbucks was planning to move in three weeks ago when a contractor showed up at the address to measure the space for renovations.
“We’re going to work as hard as we can to keep our customers and keep them coming back,” Escava said of his new caffeinated competition on First Avenue. “We don’t expect to keep every customer, but we’ll strive to do that.”
Representatives for the building’s owner, Benjamin Shaoul, declined to comment on the deal.